Dehradun: The concept of Van Panchayat that came into existence in the state during the colonial times has gained immense recognition in the country over a period of time and has attracted the Union government towards forest conservation.
Followed in the hilly regions of Uttarakhand, state rich in forest resources, Van Panchayat's evolution for the protection and the management of natural resources has now attracted the attention of Union government towards it for conserving the forest areas in other states.

Among all the Indian states, Uttarakahnd is a glaring example of strong bond shared between forest and humans. It is due to this reason, the foundation of Van Panchayats was laid in the year 1930-31 by Bharata Ratna awardee Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant.

The introduction of the Van Panchayat resulted in fruitful effects. However, restrictions on the forest rights created a gap between the villagers and their dependency on forests. But during the past few years, the autonomous local body regained its importance.

For the prevention of forest and wildlife from overexploitation in the 15.32 percent of forest land in the state, 12,089 Van Panchayats gradually came into existence.

With the help of 1,25,000 workforce under the Van Panchayats, awareness to protect the natural resources has spread among the local villagers. Besides, it is also helping to generate employment .

However, there are many stumbling blocks faced in operating Van Panchayats in the state. The biggest hurdle is the marketing of the handmade products manufactured by the villagers after training. Even equipments required saving the reserved forest and coordination between the Van Panchayats of different village comes as a big challenge.

“Stress is being laid on the strengthening of the Van Panchayats. Presently, the Panchayat is working at a full pace. If in case any problem comes into light, it will be soon solved," said Chief Forest Conservator, Van Panchayat, SS Sharma.

Gauging the success of Van Panchayats in conservation of forest and wildlife, government is laying thrust on the concept of Van Panchayat and asked the other states to adopt the same model.